About STDs: Everything You Need To Know in 2019

About STDs: Everything

STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, are diseases that are transmitted most commonly through sexual contact.

Although different STDs have different methods of transmission, many are highly contagious and most people will have an STD of some sort during their lifetime.

Right now, the CDC reports an average of 20 million cases of STDs each year in the United States.

The rate of STD transmission is so high because many STDs have few to no symptoms. This means, many people don’t get tested and continue passing on an STD without knowing it.

How STDs Are Transmitted

Although STDs are most commonly transmitted through sexual contact, some STDs can be transmitted by simple skin-to-skin contact.

Other routes of transmission include IV drug needle sharing, transmission to an unborn child during pregnancy, and even through breastfeeding.

Although many STDs are highly contagious and easily spread, STDs are NOT spread on toilet seats or through normal day-to-day, non-sexual contact with others.

What About Oral Sex?

Although vaginal and anal sex are the most common methods of transmission for many STDs, it is possible to transmit certain STDs through oral sex.

Although the the risk of transmission is low, HIV and herpes are among the STDs that have been shown to be transmitted via oral sex.

Additional factors such as sores on the vagina and penis, oral contact with menstrual blood, other STDs, and bleeding gums can increase the risk of transmission orally.

Common Symptoms of STDS

Although each STD may have it’s own, unique symptoms, the most common symptoms for STD in general include:

    • few to no symptoms on vagina
    • Itching of the genitals (especially inside the penis)
    • Green, white, yellow, or brownish discharge from the vagina
    • A strong odor from the vagina
    • Pain while urinating
    • Pain during intercourse
    • Low grade fever or mild flu-like symptoms
    • Rash or sores on the genitals

When You Should Consider STD Testing

If you have any of the common symptoms of STDs, you should consider testing. Of course, many STDs don’t have symptoms, so you should consider testing if you engage in unprotected sex, or you’ve recently begun having sexual relations with a new partner even with no symptoms present.

It’s also advisable to get tested at least once per year for STDs if you’re sexually active (even without risky behaviour or symptoms of an STD).

The Benefits Of Early Testing

There are many benefits to testing, even if you don’t show symptoms. When you catch an STD early, there are often many treatment options available.

In fact, many STDs are easily treated with simple antibiotics. Early identification of an STD infection also prevents you from spreading the infection to other sexual partners.

Testing Options

When it comes to testing for STDs, you have a number of options. You can get tested through your own physician, a sexual health clinic, or through an online testing provider.

There are pros and cons to the various testing methods. Although you may be most familiar with your primary physician, you may find yourself waiting several days to get in for an appointment.

Sexual health clinics may be able to see you right away, but you might still find yourself waiting for hours at the clinic depending on how many people are there to get tested or receive other services.

With online testing services, you can order your test online, get tested the same day, and in most cases get your results within a day or two.

More and more people opt for testing this way because it’s completely anonymous, it’s affordable, and you can get tested within minutes, instead of waiting hours or days.

Regardless of the testing method that you choose, if you think you’ve been exposed to an STD or you haven’t been tested in a while, the most important thing is that you get tested as soon as possible.

How Testing Works

Most modern STD tests are fairly fast and painless. Depending on what you’re testing for, in most cases, all that’s required is a small urine or blood sample.

Those samples are then sent to the lab for analysis. The results are fast, and are available within 1-2 days. With other testing methods, results can sometimes take up to a week.

Summing It All Up

Although STDs are highly contagious and most people will be affected by an STD at some point in life, the good news is that most STDs are 100% treatable.

If you haven’t been tested recently, or you have any of the common STD symptoms, the most important thing is that you get tested. So many people put off testing and put their health or the health of others at risk.

When you get tested, you’ll know for sure. Results with modern STD tests are highly accurate, and can have complete peace of mind when you get your results.

Signs And Symptoms Of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Although STD symptoms vary based on the type of infection and even the person, these are some common symptoms associated with an STD infection:

Although STD symptoms vary based on the type of infection and even the person, these are some common symptoms associated with an STD infection:

Common Symptoms Of STDS

    • No symptoms at all – Many STDs are “silent” or don’t present any visible symptoms
    • Discharge from the penis or vagina
    • Itching of the genitals (inside or around the penis or vagina)
    • A strong odor from the vagina
    • Pain while urinating
    • Pain during intercourse
    • Low grade fever, sore throat, or other mild flu-like symptoms
    • Rash or sores on or around the genitals

Although many STDs are asymptomatic (show no signs or symptoms), it’s still possible to pass the infection to others. The absence of symptoms for many people is why regular STD testing is so important.

In most cases, if symptoms will become present with a new STD infection, they will present themselves within a few days of initial exposure (sexual activity).

Even when symptoms are present, in some cases they may be mild. That’s why, looking at symptoms when considering testing is only part of the equation.

It’s also important to look at general risk of contracting an STD and the time since the last STD screening. Anyone that’s sexually active should be tested at least once per year, and possible more frequently.

For people that have unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, or those that have symptoms (even if they seem mild), testing should be a top priority.

The good news is that many STDs can be easily treated with simple antibiotics, but it’s crucial that testing occur to determine what, if any, STDs are present.

Early testing will reduce complications as well as transmission to other or future partners.

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (2nd) and although it affects both men and women, women have a higher risk of infertility from an untreated infection.

Common Symptoms Of STDS

    • No symptoms at all – Many STDs are “silent” or don’t present any visible symptoms
    • Discharge from the penis or vagina
    • Itching of the genitals (inside or around the penis or vagina)
    • A strong odor from the vagina
    • Pain while urinating
    • Pain during intercourse
    • Low grade fever, sore throat, or other mild flu-like symptoms
    • Rash or sores on or around the genitals

Although many STDs are asymptomatic (show no signs or symptoms), it’s still possible to pass the infection to others. The absence of symptoms for many people is why regular STD testing is so important.

In most cases, if symptoms will become present with a new STD infection, they will present themselves within a few days of initial exposure (sexual activity).

Even when symptoms are present, in some cases they may be mild. That’s why, looking at symptoms when considering testing is only part of the equation.

It’s also important to look at general risk of contracting an STD and the time since the last STD screening. Anyone that’s sexually active should be tested at least once per year, and possible more frequently.

For people that have unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, or those that have symptoms (even if they seem mild), testing should be a top priority.

The good news is that many STDs can be easily treated with simple antibiotics, but it’s crucial that testing occur to determine what, if any, STDs are present.

Early testing will reduce complications as well as transmission to other or future partners.

Treatment For Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STD Treatment Guidelines

Generally speaking, there are treatments available for almost any STD that you will ever encounter. Not all STDs have a cure, but there are medications available to alleviate some of the more severe symptoms of even the incurable STDs.

The STDs that cannot be cured are herpes and HIV. Hepatitis C can be eradicated with newer antiviral medications in certain patients, but there is no silver bullet that can cure everybody of it as of yet.

As mentioned earlier, just because these diseases cannot be cured does not mean that they cannot be managed with medication.

In the case of herpes, both oral and genital, there are prescription medications available that can lessen the severity of outbreaks and reduce their frequency. The typical time of an outbreak, which is 2-3 weeks without treatment, can also be reduced.

HIV Treatment Options

There are multiple medications available for HIV. The disease works to weaken your immune system, which often makes you vulnerable to diseases that your body would otherwise be able to overcome.

Due to the nature of HIV making your susceptible to many different illnesses that you ordinarily would not need to worry about, the medications needed vary greatly from patient to patient.

Once your doctors and healthcare providers become aware that you are infected with HIV, they will be able to prescribe a cocktail of medications that are tailored to the symptoms that you are dealing with.

Gonorrhea Treatment Options

Gonorrhea has developed a resistance to a number of typical antibiotics, so the typical treatment for it involves an injection. It can be cured as of now, but its ability to resist antibiotics is a cause of concern in the medical community.

According to the CDC, a doctor could prescribe a dual combination therapy approach with a single dose of ceftriaxone (250mg) injected beneath the muscle and 1g of oral azithromycin to treat gonorrhea.

Hepatitis Treatment Options

Hepatitis diseases can be treated with antiviral medications if required. As mentioned before, certain patients can now be fully cured of the disease with some breaking edge medications. Most patients cannot be, and they need to manage the disease indefinitely with medication.

Your body is often able to fight hepatitis A and hepatitis B without any kind of medication. However, this is not the case for everybody.

The small percentage of people who are unable to fight these diseases can schedule an appointment with a doctor to receive treatment. These diseases can be cured.

Chlamydia Treatment Options

Chlamydia can be cured even more easily than gonorrhea with a proper dose of antibiotics and zero exposure to the infection during the treatment period.

Your doctor will prescribe azithromycin or doxycycline for anywhere from a single dose (azithromycin) to up to 2 weeks (doxycycline).

Syphilis Treatment Options

Syphilis is treated with a prescription dosage of antibiotics, generally an injection of penicillin.

Individuals who may be allergic to penicillin do have the option of using different antibiotics such as doxycicline, azithromycin, ceftriaxone or tetracycline.

Curable STDs

Curable STDS: Which STDs Stay And Which STDs Go?

There are many types of sexually transmitted diseases, some are easily curable with over the counter antibiotics that can be prescribed by a physician, while others have no known cure.

Some individuals mistakenly believe STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are different classes of infections (one being curable vs. the other incurable), but this is incorrect; the two are synonymous.

Why Are Some STDs Curable And Others Not?

The differences between STDs that can be cured and those that cannot lies in their biology. Bacterial infections, which make up largest percentage of STD cases yearly, can be targeted and with broad spectrum antibiotics.

Bacterial infections are relatively easy to treat and by following a prescribed treatment regimen and avoiding re-introduction to the bacteria, full eradication of the infection will be achieved.

Viral infections on the other hand follow a completely different set of rules. Infections such as Herpes, HIV, HPV, and Hepatitis have no known cures and often times interact differently from individual to individual.

Sometimes these viral infections can lay dormant for years, even decades, while other times flare ups and visible signs of infection may happen rapidly.

Science still has more learn about the intricacies of viral infections and how the human body’s immune system interacts with these intruders.

Healthy immune systems have been known to naturally neutralize and rid the body of certain infections (such as HPV).

List Of Curable STDs

The following sexually transmitted diseases can be cured:

  • Chlamydia – One of the most common STDs that females are at a higher risk for and can easily be treated with a prescribed round of antibiotics.
  • Gonorrrhea – The most common sexually transmitted infection, gonorrhea can be effectively treated with over the counter antibiotics.
  • Syphilis – caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, Syphilis is a highly contagious STD that should be treated early to prevent spread and damage throughout the body.
  • Trichomoniasis – a STD caused by a parasite that can be treated with a full round of antibiotics.
  • Scabies – scabies are skin mites that can dwell in your bedding, sheets and on your clothes and can be treated with prescription soap or shampoo.
  • Pubic Lice/Crabs – pubic lice can also be treated with prescription soap or shampoo and can infest bedding, sheets and clothing.

List Of Incurable STDs

The following STDs currently have no known cure:

  • Oral Herpes – HSV-1 or oral herpes is the virus that causes cold sores most often, although herpes of the mouth can also occur as a result of HSV-2.
  • Genital Herpes – HSV-2 or genital herpes causes painful open sores around the regions of infection.
  • HIV/AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) – HIV, the precursor to AIDS, is an infection that reduces the body’s ability to fight off infections. Although HIV cannot be cured, if caught early enough it can be treated and AIDS can be pushed off.
  • HPV – HPV, or the human papillomavirus comes in hundreds of different variant strains. Some of these strains are responsible for genital warts, an unsightly condition of warts occurring on the genital region. Other strains can cause cervical cancer in women.
  • Chronic Hepatitis B & C (HBV & HCV) – After the initial stages of Hepatitis infection, chronic hepatitis sets in (within 6 months of initial infection) and the virus stays around for life.

List Of STDs The Human Body Has Been Observed Curing Itself

With a healthy immune system, the human has body has been known to cure:

  • Molluscum contagiosum – This viral STD has been documented to clear itself in the human body within 4-18 months of initial infection, although some cases can go up to 5 years.
  • HPV – the human papilloma virus has been known to clear the body within 2 years of initial infection.
  • Hepatitis A (HAV) – Initial infections of the Hepatitis A virus can be cleared by the body within 6 months and should be immunized against if you qualify as at risk for HAV.
  • Acute Hepatitis B (HBV)  – Initial infections of the Hepatitis B virus can also be cleared 6 months within entering the body.
  • Acute Hepatitis C (HCV) – 20% of Hepatitis C infections clear themselves, while the remainder develop chronic HCV, which never leaves the body.

Although there are differences between incurable and curable STDS, one thing remains the same between them.

Getting tested early and identifying an infection before it has time to spread and damage the body’s internals is crucial to maintaining your sexual health.

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Written by STDsSTIs

STDsSTIs is here to help people think, discuss and take responsible action on some of life’s biggest decisions – ones that often don’t get enough attention. We help raise the tough questions and ask young people to consider what really makes sense for them. Together, we can help Coloradans lead healthier lives and raise healthier families.

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